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Lighter and more highly-evolved Zeta platform being developed

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Holden rear-drive architecture put on a diet for next generation of GM cars

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS 21 May 2009

http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/...

HOLDEN is developing a lighter and more highly-evolved version of its three-year old Zeta rear-wheel-drive architecture that underpins several GM models including Commodore, Statesman and Chevrolet Camaro.

The company says cutting weight from Zeta is one of the biggest goals for the Port Melbourne engineers, as General Motors tries to keep the platform competitive for a number of years.

Holden’s engineers are working towards refining Zeta for possible new applications in GM’s future mid and large-car programs.

Whether these products would be made overseas or by Holden under a renewed export program is still unknown.

We understand that the recipients of ‘New Zeta’ will most likely include North American-market models under the Cadillac and Chevrolet franchises, as well as the Buick models that GM makes and sells in China.

Whether this means the VE Commodore continues in the US and Canada after the VE-based G8 models die with the Pontiac brand after 2010 remains to be seen.

However, this is all on condition that the massive GM restructure plan to be announced on June 1 all goes according to Holden’s forecasts.

Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss admitted earlier this week at the launch of the vital new Cruze small car that some sort of US bankruptcy filing is possible and may be even inevitable for GM at the end of the month, even though it is not the avenue that the corporation wants to take.

We hear Holden’s engineers have taken heed from other manufacturers – including Ford Australia and Jaguar with the XF – on the development potential locked within an existing architecture.

Referring to the lauded but lardy Zeta platform, one insider told GoAuto that Holden had learned that the act of throwing away something you already had can often meant ending up losing something good.

Mr Reuss revealed that neither GM nor Holden was in any position now or in the foreseeable future to repeat a multi-billion dollar program like Zeta, and was unlikely to be for a long time.

“GM has Sigma for Cadillac (and) also the low-cost Zeta, and so the two will probably co-exist, because one of the four core brands in North America will be Cadillac,” he said.

“We are still one of the few places that do right-hand drive (in the world).”

Mr Reuss said Zeta was still in the early stages of its product lifecycle, and that future developments were intended to make it a world-leading rear-drive platform.

“What I want to do is … make that architecture pay, for a very long period,” he said.

Mr Reuss described the Zeta proportions as “gorgeous”, saying that this allowed it to be a flexible base for lots of cars – two-door, four-door and long wheelbase.

“We have the ultimate Lego set in this car,” he said. “Now we have got to go out and make it world class – and I mean for the rest of the world, as the market changes for both operating costs and design.

“We haven’t finished making this car excellent.”

Mr Reuss said one of the ways Holden was improving Zeta was by introducing new materials that were once prohibitively expensive.

“We haven’t got any exotic panel material on this car at all,” he said.

“Now, the costs of doing these sort of things have come down to the point where we can actually do them, and make money out of it, we can get mass out of the car very easily.”

Holden says it wants Australians to keep in mind that the Commodore and other large cars are still at the forefront of the company’s agenda, despite the financial crisis, and even though it is setting up small-car manufacturing at its Elizabeth plant in South Australia.

“It certainly is not over yet,” one insider said. “And we will see some of the changes sooner rather than later.”

This is a reference to the fuel-saving and emissions-cutting technologies that are being applied to the VE Commodore and WM Statesman/Caprice series over the next few months, including LPG solutions and possibly the option of direct-injection HFV6s.

V8 models already have AFM fuel-management cylinder cut-off technology.

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WOOHOO!!

+1

Mr Reuss described the Zeta proportions as “gorgeous”, saying that this allowed it to be a flexible base for lots of cars – two-door, four-door and long wheelbase.

sigh...I wanted to see all that potential realized, it would be nice to think something more could still come of it all.

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Isn't this Alpha?

I had originally thought the plan was for Alpha to be able to underpin everything from a Solstice to a Holden Caprice. In all likelihood it's too much to ask for the pricepoints they want to sell the cars at. Building a "Zeta Lite" shouldn't cost that much in engineering effort as they're just replacing steel with whatever lighter material they choose. It would also allow for Alpha to focus on compact 4cyl/6cyl cars. Over time I can see "Zeta Lite" taking over for Sigma.

Go Holden.

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This is good news. Would help make the Camaro get even better mileage, and be quicker at the same time.

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Holden is the only GM brand that I still have faith in.

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Referring to the lauded but lardy Zeta platform, one insider told GoAuto that Holden had learned that the act of throwing away something you already had can often meant ending up losing something good.

QUOTED FOR TRUTH.

I would not be mad if GM delayed the STS/DTS replacement until this platform was ready. Seriously.

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WOW....I'm shocked...I had assumed GM would scrap Zeta and use Epsilon II in it's place in the future..

Edited by Cubical
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WOW....I'm shocked...I had assumed GM would scrap Zeta and use Epsilon II in it's place in the future..

Actually, scrapping Zeta would be an asinine waste of resources and investment.

Yet I am surprised that someone at GM actually looked at this logically.

Good.

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This is interesting news. I wonder how long it will take to get a car in North America that uses this new lightened Zeta.

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I had expected the Alpha to be a scales down and lighter Zeta. This just may be it.

The Zeta was made to be expandable in wheel base and width so to scale this down and make it smaller would be logical. There is nothing wrong with the Zeta except it size will not fit into the requirements of the future goverment rules. Making it a more efficent car will make it live on.

I just would not expect much in a V8 and if they do have a V8 it will be smaller and more expensive. I don't think even DI can save the LS engine after 2016. Note California is already pushing for higher limits now that Obama has rasied the stakes yesterday. There is no comprimise with CARB they will take and take untill someone is willing to step up and stop them.

I wonder if this news will make Ford finally decide if they will build a new RWD. Last I heard they were not really pushing a platform till they heard about the Goverment regs. I know they are looking into it but did not want to go public yet with a yea or nay.

Edited by hyperv6
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In a pile of crap hanging around in the quagmire, I see a beautiful lotus blooming.

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I wonder if this news will make Ford finally decide if they will build a new RWD. Last I heard they were not really pushing a platform till they heard about the Goverment regs. I know they are looking into it but did not want to go public yet with a yea or nay.

Yeah, I'm also wondering about Ford's future plans..it looks like the Mustang will be their only RWD model in a year or so, if Panther is phased out in '10 as I've read....I'm assuming that the CV, GM and TC won't be replaced, and that the Taurus and MKS will fill the big car roles, unless Ford commits to a new RWD platform...

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Excellent, hopeful news!
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Holden is the only GM brand that I still have faith in.

& by extension: Cadillac.

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& by extension: Cadillac.

+1

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I know of one Ruess that worked for GM, Lloyd Ruess, former president of GM, but his son works for GM now apparently.

Here is a video of them:

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:unsure:

does this mean i ordered that SS Impala garden memorial stone too early?

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This should have been done from the start, but it's good news nonetheless.

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Well this is good news. So a Camaro could live on after 2015... GM has done something BIG right, Zeta is a little porky but a GREAT platform and GM would have been stupid to piss all of this away. So I go away camping with buddies for a few days and GM does something bright, maybe I should do this more often. Hell maybe the G8 and Solstice can come back for Pontac... No that make too much sense but aside of that I have a slight hope for cars.

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As long as GM keeps doing things right all the time then they'll bounce back sooner rather than later...

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